Cook Medical to bring 100 jobs, resources to help people qualify for high-demand work

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INDIANAPOLIS — A new facility is making plans to expand in Indianapolis.

Cook Medical, a manufacturer of hospital products, is set to bring 100 jobs starting at about $15 an hour.

Its new facility, located at 38th and Sheridan, is expected to be finished by the end of the year with operations starting during the first quarter of 2022.

“We have seen, across the country, that there are a lot of job openings and we have the same issue,” said president Pete Yonkman. “Here in Bloomington, we have more than 400 jobs openings.”

It’s a similar story throughout the state: employers have plenty of vacancies, but not enough candidates to fill them.

Advanced manufacturing and logistics is the state’s largest industry sector. However, the industry itself continues to battle a growing shortage of skilled workers with thousands of positions still available.

For Cook Medical, they plan to help fill in the gaps. By working with other groups, like Conexus Indiana and Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, they’re teaming up to help prepare future employees and others in the state to qualify for high-demand jobs.

“We can work with anybody, even if they never worked in a manufacturing setting before, we can give them the skills they need through training with Goodwill and Cook,” Yonkman said. “Also the education, so people don’t need to worry about education requirements or work experience. We’re there to help everybody get on the pathway to a great career.”

Yonkman says the facility will offer free education (up to a master’s degree) and paid on-site training. Goodwill will operate and provide wraparound services using support teams and life coaches. Together, they’ll help employees overcome obstacles that may impact their work, like transportation, mental health and housing.

“The reality of it is people have been left out of the workforce,” Yonkman said. “So many times, companies will say we need to sit back and wait for a person that’s fully trained to come work for us. We take the opposite approach. We say, if you want to work, if you want to be part of this team, we’re going to give you those skills to make that possible.”

Through the Community Foundation of Indianapolis, about $4 million was invested in the project. The overall plan, Yonkman said, includes several key players to help meet people where they are and restore life to communities in need.

“Throughout our state, there’s so many areas where we have declining population, or jobs have left,” said Yonkman. “I think this really is a model to start bringing back, people have talked about rebuilding the middle class in this country, and I really think this model provides a way for us to start to think about how do we do that.”

The hope is other businesses will adopt similar models by working with other community group to help fill in the gaps within the workforce.

“What we’re trying to do, and we really think we’ve succeeded, is building a model that’s a win, win, win for everybody involved. We can do good business, but you can also do good in the community at the same time,” Yonkman said.

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